In the play, Romeo and Juliet, the character of Mercutio is one of Romeo’s best friends, whose aggressive vitality (shown in speech as well as action) provokes a duel – with a tragic outcome that affects every character in the play.
You first meet Mercutio in Act one, scene four, where Benvolio, Romeo and Mercutio are about to gatecrash a party at the Capulet household.
Within the first few lines of the scene, we get the impression that although Mercutio seems to be a very good friend to Romeo, they are polar opposites. For example, whereas Romeo is a lover and uses poetic language to express it, Mercutio uses poetic language to mock the idea of love.
An example of this is when Mercutio says, ‘If love be rough with you, be rough with love: Prick love for pricking and you beat love down.’ This could also be used as an example of how while Romeo tries to be a peacemaker, Mercutio is almost waiting for an excuse to start a fight, to put it simply, Mercutio is more headstrong with an aggressive vitality.
Another one of Mercutio’s characteristics is his imaginative, almost crazy, mind. One of the best examples of this is his speech about ‘Queen Mab’ the ‘fairies midwife’.
This speech comes about after Romeo has told Mercutio and Benvolio that he has had a dream, telling him that going to the party that night is a bad idea and will have dire consequences (which, in hindsight the two friends should have taken more notice to) and so Mercutio waves it away and, to lighten the mood, makes Romeo turn his attention to Mercutio’s speech about how dreams really come about.
His imaginative mind is shown, in this speech, by the way he describes ‘Queen Mab’. Using phrases like, ‘In shape no bigger than an agate-stone’. He describes her chariot in finite detail, and emphasizing just how small it is where he says, ‘Her waggon-spokes made of long spinners’ legs, the cover of the wings of grasshoppers, her traces of the smallest spider web, her collars of the moonshine’s...